This article has been written by Vedangi A. Merukar pursuing a Diploma in US Contract Drafting and Paralegal Studies course from LawSikho.

 This article has been edited and published by Shashwat Kaushik.


Intellectual property is an intangible creation of the human mind, usually expressed or translated into a tangible form, i.e., assigned certain rights to property. Intellect is an integral part of one’s personality and plays an important role in what one decides to put its labour in. Hence, intellectual labour or intellectual skill are one’s property, and anything that comes out of an application of these is their own. Naturally, a person should have the right to own the products of his intellect. The intellectual property rights provide exclusive rights to the creator for a limited period. Intellectual property covers patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, geographical Indications and trade secrets. In the past few years, India’s intellectual property regime has seen various changes, with constant changes in the legal system of intellectual property regulation. 

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What are patents

Patents are rights granted to inventions in industrial and scientific fields. A patent is an exclusive right granted to the inventor by the law with respect to the making, selling and supply of the invention for a limited period of time. This right is granted with the goal of creating a monopoly for the inventor, which in turn generates encouragement for research. But with the grant of exclusive rights to the invention, the inventor is, in return, required to disclose the principles of working of the invention for the greater good of the public and to support further research from the previous stages. Patents can either be granted for a product or a process. Patents are granted for inventions that have industrial and commercial value. Any inventor with an invention that has industrial application, involves innovative steps and is novel can be granted a right of monopoly over the invention, which allows him to commercially exploit the said invention and earn profits out of it. The law relating to intellectual property is based on certain basic concepts. Thus, patent law revolves around the concepts of novelty and inventive steps.

The term “patent” is derived from the Latin word “patre,” which means “to lay open,” that is, to make available for public inspection. The term patent is a shorter version of the phrase “Letters Patent,” which were the instruments used under the great seal of the King of England addressed by the crown to the public at large in which it conferred certain privileges and rights upon one or more people. However, the first ever recorded patent in history was granted for the process of making glass in Utynam, Russia, to a man named John in the year 1449.

Although in India, throughout history there has been a high standard of development in science and art. However, this knowledge was always kept secret by the inventor and passed down to the successor or the favourite pupil and only the results were made public. This kind of way had its drawbacks, like if the inventor passed away untimely, the knowledge of the invention would be lost, never to be found again. In modern times, it was the inventions that acquired legal protection. Legal protection for inventions, i.e., patents, emerged in the British era, during which the British had their own system while drafting the first Indian Patent Act, which was based on the British Patent Law of 1852. The first Indian Patent Act was passed in 1857. This Act was modelled on the British Patent Law of 1852 and provided for the grant of patents for inventions that were new and useful. The Act was amended several times over the years, but the most significant amendments were made in 1970, 1999, 2002, and 2005.

The Patent Act of 1970 was a major overhaul of the Indian patent system. This Act introduced a number of changes, including:

  • The establishment of a single patent office for all of India.
  • The introduction of a new system for the examination of patent applications.
  • The expansion of the scope of patentable subject matter to include processes and products.
  • The introduction of a compulsory licensing system.

The Patent Act of 1970 was further amended in 1999, 2002, and 2005. These amendments made a number of changes to the Act, including:

  • The introduction of a new definition of invention.
  • The expansion of the scope of patentable subject matter to include computer programs and business methods.
  • The introduction of a new system for the grant of patents.
  • The strengthening of the compulsory licensing system.

The Indian patent system has undergone significant changes since the first Indian Patent Act was passed in 1857. These changes have been driven by a number of factors, including the need to promote innovation, the need to protect intellectual property, and the need to comply with international trade agreements.

The Indian patent system is now a well-developed and sophisticated system that provides strong protection for inventions. This system has played a vital role in promoting innovation and economic growth in India.

Patents have always been a major subject-matter in the intellectual property regime. Patents provide a form of legal protection for invention and play a vital role in fostering innovation, encouraging technological progress and encouraging economic growth. The increase in patent filings has inevitably given rise to an increase in patent litigation. Presently, patent disputes in India fall under the purview of commercial courts or high courts. These courts, however, are already struggling with an overwhelming amount of caseload surrounding a diverse range of matters, from commercial to civil and criminal, which, as a result, does not provide for a focused and specialised approach to adjudicating the patent related issues. The lack of specialised expertise in handling patent matters often results in delayed or inconsistent decisions, hindering the resolution of disputes. 

Challenges in patent litigation

Challenges in patent litigation are:

Technical complexity

Patents, by their very nature, involve highly technical and scientific subject matter. The intricate details of inventions and technological advancements can be challenging for judges without a specialised background. Any person without in depth knowledge of the subject matter is not competent to understand the issues that arise with respect to the foundation or functioning of the invention, which can further lead to a potential misinterpretation of the issue, which can become a lead problem in the misjudgement of the problem at hand. 


As it is extensively known about the general backlog of the Indian judiciary, the courts are not occupied enough to take on extra cases, let alone intricate or complex cases such as patents, which further delays the already lengthy procedure for patent disputes. Hence, the result is a procedural delay in the patent litigation.


With numerous different judges from various backgrounds handling patent cases, there is quite a risk of inconsistent interpretations or judgements of the case. As there is no understanding of the specialised application of the patents regime, the fostering of legal predictability for innovation and investment seems to reduce over time.

Technical expertise

Patent disputes need the necessary in-depth knowledge of the technicalities for a thorough understanding of the subject-matter. As there is no specialised patent litigation, the issues can remain unresolved or pending for a long time, often leading to losses. 

Solutions over challenges in patent litigation

The only solution to all these problems is to establish specialised patent trial courts in India, which will not only be necessary but also imperative for growth and competition in this knowledge-driven economy. With the abolishment of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), the burden on the high courts focuses attention on a great number of pending cases, giving rise to a multiplicity of suits and conflicting decisions. By setting up specialised patent trial courts, India can establish a reputation as a destination for innovation and technological advancement, all while safeguarding the rights of inventors and promoting economic progress. The way forward can be as follows:

Expertise and training

Establishing specialised patent trial courts requires a diligent selection process to ensure that judges possess a background in science, engineering or technology. Additionally, ongoing training programmes could be instituted to keep the judges informed of the latest developments in patent law and technology, enhancing their ability to adjudicate effectively. 

Dedicated infrastructure

Adequate infrastructure is of prime importance for the success of specialised patent trial courts. Modern courtrooms equipped with advanced technology to facilitate the presentation of complex evidence are essential. These courts should also be granted access to a list of technical experts who can provide valuable insights and offer their unbiased expertise during the litigation process.  

Fast track procedures

To expedite the resolution of patent disputes, special procedures and timelines could be implemented within the specialised courts. This might include pre-trial conferences, streamlined discovery processes, and prompt hearings, ensuring a more efficient legal process without compromising the quality of adjudication. 

Promotion of ADR Mechanism

With the setting up of specialised patent trial courts, the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms should be encouraged, as this would play a vital role in the successful enforcement of the specialised court. Mediation or arbitration could be promoted as viable options to resolve disputes more expeditiously and cost-effectively, reducing the burden on the courts and providing the parties with more flexible resolution options.

Public awareness and education

Alongside the establishment of a specialised patent trial court, there should be a collaborative effort to enhance public awareness and education about patent rights and the dispute resolution process. This can lead to a more informed and responsible approach to patent litigation, reducing frivolity and promoting a culture of innovation. 

International practices

In the establishment process of such specialised patent trial courts in India, it is essential for us to draw insights from the experiences of other jurisdictions and countries that have implemented such practices successfully. Learning from international best practices will allow India to tailor its approach to suit our unique legal and technological landscape.


In recent years, India has witnessed a significant surge in innovation and the importance of intellectual property rights, especially patents, has taken centre stage in this era of rapid technological advancement. Patents, as a form of legal protection for inventions, play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, driving economic growth, and encouraging technological progress. As India positions itself on the global innovation map, its approach to specialised patent trial courts represents a commitment to a healthy intellectual property ecosystem that will encourage innovation, protect inventors and ensure a fair and efficient resolution of patent disputes.



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